The Importance of the Impossible
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Asexuality in Epic Fantasy

Posted by A.E. Marling in Uncategorized

In epic fantasy, the author has the opportunity to create a large and diverse cast of characters. It was more likely to be large and uniform when I was growing up, but I like to think the realms of imagination are expanding to include people of all identities. One orientation that I am dragon-flight excited to portray in my latest novel is asexuality.

“Unlike celibacy, which is a choice, asexuality is a sexual orientation. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships.”

If you haven’t heard of asexuality before it’s only because no one talks about it. Humans are described as sexual animals. Marketers try to attract the most eyes with sexuality. Even the DSM-IV described the identity as “sexual aversion disorder.” In reality, asexuals make up between 1-10% of the population. (Reporting bias may be throwing off what little data we have if, for instance, men feel pressured into saying they’re very sexual, yeah, bro!)

Not only do asexual people exist, they do so in a merry spectrum of lustless diversity. Some are happiest alone, some prefer many friendships, and some seek committed romance, only without the one element everyone else assumed was critical. Asexuals can still consider themselves straight, gay, or bi-romantic. You may have heard of demisexuality, where a person tends to feel sexual attraction only after a deep romantic attachment. It also fits on this grey rainbow.
grey rainbow
In societies disinclined to empathize with anyone who deviates from the accepted average, asexuals may feel forced to fake desires they’ve never felt. They may even lack a word for what they are.

Portrayals of minorities in media reaffirms their right to exist. The novel with its close perspective specifically can help people appreciate each other regardless of differences. Neil Gaiman has said the rise of the novel has marked the beginning of the age of empathy. I believe that’s so, and that we have more reading to do.

I am not the first to write a story featuring a contented asexual as a major character. Pillars of Earth by Ken Follett comes to mind. And that’s it. In Dark Lord’s Wedding, the protagonist knows she can lead a fulfilled life without sex. After all, she has amethyst dragons to command.

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Asexuality is but one facet of the protagonist’s personality, and it’s only one example of diversity I wished to portray in Dark Lord’s Wedding. The epic fantasy takes place in a tropical setting. Here you will find not only a plurality of creatures and character races and identities but as great a variety of unspeakable horrors.

Dark Lord’s Wedding aims to disturb as well as delight. It celebrates alliances between the unnatural and the villainous, or so other people might yell while waving fists and torches. The novel is an expedition deep into the jungles of imagination. If you’re interested in reading it, you may wish to first try one of my previous novels. Each has major characters returning for this finale.

Yet if what you want most is an asexual protagonist striving to take over the world through atypical means, be brave and begin reading.

Medium cover

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